The Taste of Gratitude – Five Ways to allow peace and joy in your heart
The Taste of LOVE – Five Ways to open your Heart
How to Taste Life when you lose a Loved One – A Story on how to look beyond pain and grief
The Taste of Gratitude – Five Ways to allow peace and joy in your heart
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
G ratitude, together with love, is the highest vibrational frequency that exists, it can and will transform your life and has the power to immediately lift negativity. I will not go into energy and vibration in this newsletter, but I will tell you a little bit more about the magic of gratitude. I have noticed throughout my life that gratitude is very often a forgotten or unavailable feeling. Most of the time it is replaced by self-pity, desire, anger, fear, envy, disappointment. These feelings and emotions will suck us in and drag us down, whereas just a sparkle of gratitude can and will lift us up. Unfortunately we don’t always remember (or maybe not even know) this and may even have the feeling that there is nothing to be grateful for in our lives. How many of us haven’t experienced those days where it seems impossible to find gratitude? Those days where the whole universe seems to be working against us and we ask “why is this happening to me?” Those days where we are swallowed by the beast of negativity. My tendency used to be to wallow in it and go to that place of self-pity. Although I was always a very positive person, I know now that in those moments I chose self-pity and disappointment, even fear instead of gratitude. I did not even see the choice; to me there was only one way. How on earth could I be grateful to be that skinny, lonely child in the playground? How could I be grateful to have the messiest hair in the world as a teenager? How to be grateful for loosing grandparents and aunts and uncles? How could I be grateful for being pregnant and losing my job? How to be grateful when one of your parents gets really sick? How to be grateful for financial setbacks? How to be grateful when you are diagnosed with cancer…
Of all the events in my life, it was my cancer diagnoses that actually forced me to experience the true value, the true meaning of gratitude. It was then that I learned about the vibrational frequency of every emotion and the effect it has on our body. I was told that when my fear and anxiety were to overwhelm me, to name out loud the things that I was grateful for in that moment. And you know for most of my adult life, gratitude had been linked to big events, major positive accomplishments or avoiding disasters. This kind of brought me back to my childhood when, attending a catholic school and raised in a catholic family, I would say an evening prayer thanking God for everything he had given me that day: my loving parents, a good mark on a test, a new pair of boots, a kiss from my friend, an ice cream… As a child it was so easy to find all those things in a day that I was grateful for. And even on days where it seemed like there was really nothing, I would always thank God for my loving family, my warm bed, my home and the great food that my mom had cooked for me. Then when I grew older this habit of praying every night kind of grew into an obligation of saying my “Our Father” and “Hail Mary’s” and I kind of forgot about the gratitude. I grew into the habit of “asking” instead of “thanking”. I would go and light a candle for making my dad get through his surgery, passing my exams, getting a job… But I would not go and light a candle to just say thank you for everything I had in my life. My gratitude became a reaction to my requests. Oh, I was grateful for my life, my family, my friends; but I seemed to have lost touch with that true vibrational feeling of gratitude that I had as a child. I lost that sense of being grateful even on days where it seems impossible.
And then I was diagnosed with cancer and I can’t say that I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I knew that this was the universe telling me it was time to change something in my life, but I had no idea what to do with it. I was thrown into a deep, dark pit of despair and anxiety and gratitude was nowhere to be found. The negativity was all consuming and I was fighting it every single day. It left me exhausted and in pain. I knew I had to do something, so I signed up for yoga classes at the local hospice. Our yoga teacher was a wonderful woman, full of grace and gratitude. She showed me the way to be grateful for my body, for everything it had done and was still doing for me. She showed me how to be that tall mountain or that playful butterfly. Her yoga showed me the way back to my heart. Then I went to the cancer support group at the same hospice and that is where my heart was guided further towards gratitude. Instead of looking at what I had lost, I was encouraged to look at what I still had or even what I had gained. Instead of complaining about how anxious I felt, I was taught to accept. I learned to be grateful for the darkness because it is the only way to see and appreciate the light. So, when I was given that exercise to express my gratitude every day, I realized that there were still so many things in my life to be grateful for. It was not because I had cancer that my whole life had become void of gifts. On the contrary, the gifts I realized were more magnificent than ever. I was thankful every day for waking up and being alive, for my husband and my children who were supporting me in tremendous ways, for my family and friends holding me in their loving embrace, for the sun shining on my face, for the rain washing away my tears, for my feet walking miles and miles to help the anxiety subside, for yoga bringing peace to my heart and hope in my soul, for the cancer support group and the friendship it brought me, for my home and my sweet dog, and after a while and a lot of exploring into the realm of gratitude, I was grateful to the cancer for showing me the way. I honestly could not have imagined that, but I was indeed deeply grateful for the change in my life and for the journey I was on. Every day when I was doing my exercise of gratitude, I could feel the warmth in my heart spreading throughout my body and replacing the darkness of anxiety with the light of love. Very slowly joy was starting to find its way back to my heart and once in a while I could feel peace settling in my soul. The vibration of gratitude was working its magic. So, I kept going and my feelings of gratitude morphed into blessings of love and acceptance. My gratitude created abundance in my life like I had never experienced before. The more grateful I was, the more I received. And that is the law of the universe: you will get what you put out in the world.
As a Native American Prayer says “Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way”; gratitude will bring forth abundance. Very often we tend to forget this; we tend to find the grass always greener on the other side; we tend to ignore what we have and continue to search for more. It seems to be the tendency of the modern world to overlook what it is we have, what it is we receive every single day. A tendency to take the beauty of nature for granted, to take water and food, our health, a home, our family, the sunshine, music, our body, even love for granted. Instead we focus on how we can obtain more and better, not realizing that we will never be satisfied unless we start with being grateful for all that we have. Native People all around the world have known this since the beginning of time and still pass the ritual of gratitude on from generation to generation. They honor and respect Mother Earth and all that lives and show their gratitude through ceremonies and prayers. They have not forgotten that we are all one and that everything is connected; they remember the magic of gratitude.
I still have days where I forget, but most of the time I fill my heart and soul with gratitude and I feel myself being lifted into the realm of limitless possibilities. I can physically feel the difference between a day filled with gratitude and a day without. I see how everything around me responds to my gratitude and how its vibration creates magic. I know that gratitude; deep, heart-felt gratitude is the key to finding peace and joy in your heart. When there is gratitude, there is no more room for anger, envy or disappointment in your heart. When filled with gratefulness, the heart will no longer get trapped in self-pity and guilt. A heart filled with gratitude will blossom into the fullness of being. A thousand hearts filled with gratitude can change numerous lives, a million hearts filled with gratitude can change our planet’s vibration. Let’s do it!
As I said, I too have days where gratitude escapes me and I open the door to all those other emotions that will bring me nothing but pain. But, that’s OK because I know my way back. And that, my dear readers, is the clue: once you have been there, you will always find your way back. Let me help you find your way to the magic of gratitude so that you will always have it within reach.
- Every day try to find at least one thing that you are grateful for. Take a moment to be still and feel the gratitude. It is not enough to just say the words, it is important to feel this gratitude filling your heart and then spilling over into the rest of your body. You will find that with this practice, after a while there will be numerous things popping up that you are grateful for. Your will feel the gratitude expanding and make your heart sparkle again.
- When there is a day that seems to hold nothing but darkness, remember that even darkness is something to be grateful for. Without it there would be no light. Be grateful for the sadness, without it there is no joy. Be grateful for the rain, without it there is no growth. Be grateful for change, without it there is no journey. Be grateful for yourself, without you life would be less.
- Remember that everything in life is a gift. A gift because we are all so deeply loved. Sometimes we do not appreciate the gift right away and we may forget to be thankful. That’s OK. Try to look at every gift with an open heart and mind and see the value that it might bring to your life. The magic of gratitude will help you see and will lighten your load.
- Travel back to the experience of gratitude you had as a child. The joy you felt for getting an ice cream. The beauty you felt when picking flowers on a beautiful summer day. The exuberance when winning a soccer game or a tennis tournament. The sheer pleasure you felt when your mom cooked your favorite dinner. The love you felt when you got your first puppy or kitten. Remember those feelings of gratitude, how deep and honest they were. That is where you want to go in experiencing gratitude now.
- Educate yourself about the energetic importance of gratitude. Read books, prayers and information that will inform you on its healing power. There is so much out there! Let experienced people guide you further and teach you what the vibrational frequency of emotions can do to your body. Open your heart and mind to the magic of gratitude.
Sky our Grandfather
Moon our Grandmother
Earth our Mother
I am thankful
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The Taste of LOVE – Five Ways to open your Heart
L ove exists in so many forms and is such an exquisite, but complex taste. There is love for our children, our parents, our partners, our pets, our friends, our neighbors; love for nature, for art, for dancing, for singing, for expressing ourselves; love for colors, for sounds, for flavors and last but not least there is the love for ourselves. It can taste soft and sweet; but sometimes it will taste strong and overwhelming. It can taste exotic and sensual, but also comforting and safe. Its taste can consume you or set you free; it can frighten you or exhilarate you. It is a taste that has so many different flavors that we will never get bored of it. We need Love, just like we need air. The Taste of Love is what brings light into our lives and music in our hearts. Love is what brings peace and healing to the world. Sometimes we may try to shut it out because we find the taste too painful, too uncomfortable. We build a wall around our heart and refuse to let even an inkling of love in. But all this time, while we think we are protecting ourselves, we are actually hurting ourselves. We stop the flow and harden our bodies; we deprive ourselves of this beautiful gift that is ours to share with the world. Love is more powerful than any weapon and more precious than the finest jewelry. Love holds the magic of abundance: you can keep on giving, you will never run out of it and you will always receive more than you give. So, let’s not be afraid and open our hearts to let a flow of love wash over the world and color it with peace and beauty.
Recently my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and it was the abundance of love that we felt at this celebration that sparked the writing of this newsletter. Since long it had been a dream of ours to celebrate this wedding anniversary with a vow renewal on a beach and invite our family and closest friends. About a year ago we found the perfect spot: the beautiful beaches of Longboat Key, Florida. The planning could begin. It was clear to us from the beginning that we did not want this to be a traditional vow renewal, we called it “a celebration of love and life”. Invitations went out and although it was not totally clear yet what we were going to do on that beach, we did ask each guest to bring a note with a fond or funny memory of us, a wish, a quote, a poem or any words that would represent love and life to them. I can tell you that most of our guests did not have anything in writing until a couple of hours before the ceremony! (which made me nervous, I have to admit!) Over the months, the ceremony had slowly begun to take form. A good friend of ours offered to be our Master of Ceremony and he would lead the whole celebration on the beach. We decided we wanted to be in a circle of love with all our loved ones and the center piece would be a beautiful, earthy quilt that would hold our mandala at the end of the ceremony. We invited the spirits of the Four Winds, of Mother Earth and of the Sun, the Moon and the Stars to join our celebration and bless us all with their love. The vibration on the beach became palpable and we felt held in such a loving, open embrace that our hearts burst with joy. Then came the moment when all of our guests would bring us their words of blessing, their words of love and so magic started. Our children were the first ones to come and the love and gratitude that rang in their words brought tears streaming down a circle of cheeks. Their partners and our parents came and it was clear that we were loved beyond measure. Then came each and every one of our friends and while we stood there listening to their words, we felt the flow of love between us and felt it radiating out into the world. Never have I experienced such an amount of love held in one place. Never have I experienced such joy, such gratitude, such pureness. We opened our hearts, sent out love and joy and received an abundance that was beyond words. We ended the ceremony by creating a circle of sand on the quilt. Two colors of sand, entwined and representing our love; a circle then filled by each and everyone with shells, stones, driftwood and flowers to create this beautiful mandala to represent the oneness of all held in our love. I am sure that if we could have bottled the love that was present on that beach at that moment, we could have cured every disease, ended every war and healed every soul. The power of love…
I wanted to share this experience with you because to me it was the epitome of feeling loved and I am hoping that through my words it will radiate out to all of you reading this.
Love to me is the cure to everything that is wrong with our world today. If we could replace every feeling of resentment, superiority, judgment, jealousy, insecurity, anger, frustration with just pure and unconditional LOVE, can you imagine what that would do the world? Sounds nice, you will say, but that is just a fantasy. How on earth would you do that? Some people are just really bad and cannot be loved. Some people are just really annoying and cannot be tolerated. Some people are just so full of hatred, they can never feel love. Some people have such big egos they seem to not even need love. Well, I think that if we all start with loving ourselves unconditionally and then radiate this love out to all the people around us and they in turn can do the same, we will create such an intense vibrational energy that there will be no stopping it. But as with everything, it has to start with us. We cannot expect love if we do not give love and we cannot give love if we do not feel love, first and foremost for ourselves. People that give love, will receive love and vice versa. When I open my heart and send out my love to the people around me, sometimes just with a smile, a kind word or a helping hand; I can feel the love coming back and blessing me with joy and gratitude. I can actually feel my vibration rising the more I open my heart. The higher our vibration, the more abundance we will receive from the universe. Love and gratitude have the highest vibration of all and by calling them into our lives, we give ourselves the gift of abundance.
I know it is not always easy; I know we sometimes get swept away by our ego, by our beliefs, by our thoughts. I still have many occasions where I close my loving heart and hide behind a wall of judgment, righteousness and frustration fueled by my own insecurity and lack of self-love. But, dear readers, I know that it is important to find my way back to my loving heart and so I do, every single time. Sometimes it takes a little more effort and time than others, but I never give up because I know that it is LOVE that will bring me the magic I am looking for. I practice. I practice on situations that cause me frustration; on people that trigger my resentment and on ME when I find myself in the trap of self-judgment and unworthiness. And I learn. I learn from my reactions, from my journey back to my heart, from the people around me. I listen to my heart; at least I try to but I have to admit that sometimes it has to scream pretty hard for me to hear it! And that’s what we do, time and again we find our way back to our loving heart; in every situation and with every single relationship. And when I get lost, I will go out in nature because Mother Nature to me is the epitome of unconditional love. She will always give us her love, no matter what we do to her. We may cut down her trees, pollute her waters, kill her animals and poison her soil; she will still bless us with fruits and vegetables, still show us her beauty and soothe our soul, still love us and hold us in her embrace. When I feel her love on one of my walks, whether it is in the hawk showing up on my path or in the fragrance of the lilacs tickling my nose; whether it is in the sun warming my face or in a heart shaped cloud in the sky; whether it is in the bounty of peaches on my tree or in the eyes of the deer looking at me through the woods; whenever I feel her love I can do nothing but feel love in my heart as well. No matter what my feelings are when I start on my walk, feeling her love will always bring me back to my loving heart.
The Taste of Love: exquisite, healing, creative, passionate, soft, sweet, sharp, overwhelming, fun, confusing, magical and always, always the Taste of Abundance.
So, join me in changing the world by opening your heart and letting your love radiate to everyone around you. Just like Bob Marley sang many years ago: One Love – One Heart…
- Your heart is probably already wide open to the people that are close to you: your partner, your children, your parents… But what about the people that trigger some resentment or frustration in you? Do you close your heart to them? I know I did for a long a time and still do once in a while. It seems to be an automatic reaction, a false sense of protection. Opening your heart does not mean you have to LOVE everybody, but loving them in the sense of accepting them for who they are and letting them be. And that made a big difference for me, knowing that giving people the space to be themselves is also a way of opening my heart to them. Try it and you will find that after a while your resentment, frustration or anger will not even be triggered anymore.
- Indeed you do not have to walk around in a long white robe, carrying flowers and blessing everybody with your love. The biggest part of radiating love to the world is LOVING YOURSELF. It is the love for yourself that will carry the vibration out into the world. And if you love all aspects of yourself you will find less and less aspects to hate in other people; for it is always those parts inside us that we dislike that we come to resent in those we meet. Look into the mirror and start by loving every freckle, every bump, every trait, every emotion of YOU.
- Every day try to send out love to a stranger with just one simple act: smile, hold a door, help someone cross the street, pet a dog, buy a sandwich for a homeless person, give your seat on the bus to a pregnant lady, stop to let a car get out of its parking spot, wave to a child, tell the cashier how nice her hair looks today, … and you will feel your own vibration rising and happiness flowing into your heart.
- Go for a walk and pay attention to how Mother Nature is showing you her love. If you are not used to it, you may not see the signs at first. Mother Nature does indeed require your full attention for you to see. But her love is in everything around you, the magic is everywhere if you are ready to see and feel. And once you do, you will notice how the flow starts to and from your heart and there is no stopping it.
- If it is the painful, hurtful flavor of Love you are running away from; the flavor that is tasted after losing someone dear, or saying goodbye to a friend moving away, the flavor that arises when you are hurt by someone you love, or when someone you love gets hurt by the world; then know that shutting down your heart will not protect you, will not help you nor those you love. It may feel like the only way to survive because the pain is too overwhelming, but believe me when I say that the healing power of love is beyond comparison. The wall around your heart will require tremendous energy to be maintained, to be kept from falling down; love will give you energy, will bring you peace. Love is the answer to everything.
How to Taste Life when you lose a Loved One – A Story on how to look beyond pain and grief
I have to admit that this is a really tough one. The first taste that comes to mind here is bitter, sharp and nasty. Definitely not a taste you would want to explore or hold on to, but it is my experience that also in this dark, painful experience there is a possibility to go to a different place, a place beyond our grief.
Losing someone you love is definitely one of the most painful events in anyone’s life; losing a loved one can throw you in such a dark, deep hole of despair that it seems impossible you will ever be able to get out. Sometimes we don’t even want to get out because the darkness seems better to bear than the world without that person in it. Sometimes we fight so hard to get out that we get even more entangled in the web of our own misery and grief. Losing a loved one is a very powerful attack on our emotions, our heart, our soul, our ego and our mind and every single one of them will get either into combat mode or will just totally shut down. A deeply rooted reflex of self-protection.
This is a matter where there is no comparing, no advice, no shoulds, no knowing… this is a subject where my heart feels and my soul sees and I only would like to shed a different light on this very human, extremely painful and utterly confusing experience by telling you about my own losses and how I dealt with them.
Death to me has always been a scary and dark “thing”; something in which you are utterly alone and that takes away all happiness. As a child I was constantly afraid of my own death and that of the people I loved. For me death meant the end. Although I was raised believing in God, Heaven and Hell; this was not really comforting to me. After all, if I was not good enough I would for sure go to Hell and all my loved ones that had died were in heaven; so scary. Also, what was heaven? What does it look like? Are they happy there? Can you still breathe? Can they still see me here on earth? So many questions, so little or no answers. I did not know what to think about death, only that it would cause me to panic just thinking about it or being around it. Funerals would make me hyperventilate and I could not go to a viewing, the idea of seeing a dead, soulless body being too frightening.
My maternal grandmother died of breast cancer when I was only a baby, so I have no conscious memories of losing her. The first real encounter with death coming really close was when one of my uncles was murdered when he was only in his twenties. A horrible and terrifying experience for my whole family. A few years later the ordeal was repeated when his twin brother died an even more violent death. Both cases were never solved and left a deep imprint in our lives. I dealt with it the only way I knew then, I buried it and emotionally ran away from it. I did not allow myself to think about it, I did not allow myself to grief, I made it into a horrifying story that I somehow could pretend did not really happen. It is astonishing what the mind can do to protect itself. Years later, when dealing with my own fears of dying, it all surfaced again. The horror, the pain, the helplessness, the fear of the unknown; it all came back full force because that’s how it works. We cannot just bury our emotions, we have to deal with them one way or another. We have to give our grief a place in our heart, we have to find peace with it.
My second big experience with loss came when my maternal grandfather, with whom I had a really close relationship, passed away. Although he was ill, it was still quite unexpected and I was devastated. I was mad at him for leaving me, I was mad at the doctors for not saving him, I was mad at God and the world. I did not understand, I did not get the whole concept of death and why it was “meant to be”. So, that was how I dealt with it this time, I got angry. He was gone, I missed him and could not find any good feelings about that at all. I think he was the first one that actually came to me several times after his death, but at that time I was so scared of anything that had to do with death or beyond, that I closed my heart and soul for these experiences. I so wanted to communicate with him, but I was too scared. I had not yet heard about the concept of death just being a letting go of our physical body, it just being the release of our beautiful energy into the wholeness of the universe. I did not know that my grandfather had returned to his state of pure consciousness and magnificent, sparkling energy. I did not know that he was always around me and that I just had to believe and open my eyes to be in touch with him. I just had to let go of all my fears, of my conditioned thinking about death and of my mind. I was not ready then.
After that I experienced the loss of two more grandparents, both of whom were holding on for dear life and struggled and fought until the very end. It strengthened my fear of death and my belief that there could be no good in all of this. It deepened my urge to run away from it, as far as possible. When I went to see my aunt, who was dying of lung cancer, for the very last time, she showed me the face of acceptance, she showed me for the very first time that death was just a passing on. She told me not to worry, she was ready to go. We said goodbye and she wished me well. I did not know what to wish her. She was so calm and so serene that I was in awe for her spirit. She was the first to show me a glimpse of the other side of death.
My turnaround experience with death came at me from two different directions: I myself was diagnosed with breast cancer which put me in death’s path and at the same time my father-in-law was diagnosed with asbestos cancer, with a very poor prognosis to survive. My fear of death reached a depth that was unimaginable. I always had had a close and very good relationship with my father-in-law, whom I called pepe. Both of us being struck by cancer created a bond that was even stronger than before. In the beginning, the only thing on my mind was how to save myself AND him from dying. I dug deep into my spiritual resources and journeyed to the depths of my Self. I had long conversations with pepe about it and had to realize that my journey was not his and vice versa. Whereas I was convinced to learn from my body and change whatever needed to be changed, pepe was convinced that for him it was too late to change and that the best thing he could do was accept the inevitable. His only worries were the loved ones he would leave behind. I knew then that my gift to him would have be my acceptance of his journey, my acceptance of his decisions, my acceptance of his mortality. Since we live in Canada and he lived in Belgium, my worry was the saying goodbye part. How would we figure out when the end was near and how would we be able to be with him? When he was getting really weak, however still living at home, getting up every day, we decided to just fly over and spend our last 10 days with him. We knew it would be our final time together and decided to just make the most of it. Instead of with worries about how and when, I decided to go in with a heart full of love, with a heart ready to let him make the journey that was right for him. I, who had always been terrified of death, came to talk to him about his passing and what it would mean to me. I, who had always seen death as an end, now knew and felt that it was just a leaving behind of his cancer ridden body so that he could find the joy and freedom of this pure, loving energy he was. And although it pained me deeply to have to do without his physical presence, my heart knew that it was time for him to pass on because seeing him in the physical and emotional pain his disease was causing him was even more painful. We spent our last ten days laughing, crying, talking, drinking champagne whenever we could and celebrating his life with us. We said goodbye on the morning of our tenth day and he decided to let go of his physical body that same evening. When we got the news of his passing, I did not feel sadness, but I could feel his luminous energy filling me with love and joy. I could feel his happiness and his lightness, he was where he belonged to be. We flew back for the funeral and for the first time in my life I did go and see a dead body. I was no longer terrified, I could see it for what it was, an empty shell. I could see and feel his presence all around us and I felt comforted and at ease with what was.
So, it took me years and quite a few losses of loved ones, but my view on death has finally started to turn from a mind-based experience to a remembering of what it really is. I realized that so often the pain, the confusion and the isolation is caused by the stories our mind is hanging on to. It is our thoughts about what this loss of a person’s physical presence means to us that cause us sorrow, anger, pain and depression. I know that whenever I am deeply connected to my true self, I can feel and hear my loved ones all around me. I have opened my heart and my eyes and I am letting myself see whatever lies beyond the physical experience. I communicate with my ancestors and with pepe and I feel supported and loved. Does this mean that I never have a hard time with the person not being there? No, not all, I still do, I still have sad and lonely moments. Does this mean I am not at all afraid of dying anymore? No, I still am and I still worry about something happening to my loved ones. Because this is a journey and I have only just begun mine, but I do know that something has opened up. I know that once we have remembered we cannot un-remember, once we have seen we cannot go back to ignorance. I know that in death and saying goodbye, there is a place beyond our grief and pain, if only we dare to go look for it…
I am not going to give you any advice here, no five ways on how to handle this, no does and don’ts. I only wanted to share my experience with you in the hope that it may give you a glimpse of all the ways we deal with the passing of a loved one and of the possibilities that lie in daring to step out of the mind, step out of the pain and believe in the magic of the universe.
All beings exist in an invisible state and then come to a state of visibility. Change occurs only on the surface, for the self-existent glory remains unchanged; changing form does not affect the self-existent Reality. Soul or the Self, dwells in all that is perishable, yet it remains imperishable.
From the Bhagavad Gita
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